Small bathrooms present design challenges. Not only must the space be functional, many homeowners desire to also make the room appear larger than it actually is. While the proper layout and right bathroom fixtures can help, the floor tile can also help enhance the appearance of the room. With the number of ceramic tile options on the market in 2011, it is possible to maximize the potential of any small bathroom space.
Large and Simple
For some contemporary small bathrooms, the most appealing floor tile treatment is large-format, simple tile. Use tiles that are 12 inches or larger, with uniform shape and color. Lay the tiles in a straight pattern for square bathroom floors and on a diagonal in long, narrow bathrooms. The fewer grout lines in the larger tiles, along with a solid color, will help create the illusion of space on the floor. Match the grout color to the tile, and try to use tiles with straight edges to minimize the size of the grout joint and enhance the effect.
Light, Reflective Colors
One general rule of thumb in small bathrooms is to keep the color scheme light. This applies to the floor as well. Choose ceramic tiles in light colors, and if possible, glossy glazes. The reflective color quality of the glaze will create the illusion of depth while the light color opens the room. Look for textured glossy ceramic tiles, handmade ceramic tiles that have a slightly wavy or undulating surface, or matte tiles in light shades of cream, white and taupe. Avoid using slick wall tiles on the floor; these make the surface slippery.
Keep the Floors and Walls the Same
Another way to open up a small bathroom is to use the same material on the floors and walls, at least to wainscot height. Using the same color of ceramic tile, without a baseboard breaking it up, will cause the eye to travel in an unbroken line from floor to wall. This creates the illusion of space and openness in the room. Differentiate between floor and wall by using the same color tile in two sizes and two textures, such as glossy and matte or in two patterns. Run the same floor tile right into the shower, using a mosaic size on the shower floor as well.
If large tiles don't work in your bathroom's style, consider going the opposite direction and using mosaics instead. Rather than medium-size tiles, which create a grid effect on your floor, chopping it up, mosaics create a wall-to-wall pattern, almost like carpet. This creates visual space in the room. Because grout lines help make the floor non-slip, consider using highly reflective ceramic mosaic tiles. The small tiles will catch the light individually, sending up a sparkle of light. The effect makes the floor seem farther away and the room appear to be larger than it is.
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